I just saw this for the first time a few weeks ago. This is the review I put up on realpitbull.com:
No wonder they want to ban the breed: review of Off the Chain DVD
With the sort of sensationalistic reports, news items, and documentaries like Off the Chain being produced at astounding rates, is it any wonder that the media fears our breed and politicians are rushing to ban it? After watching Off the Chain, the viewer who understands little or nothing about the breed will find it difficult to believe that there is a use for Pit Bulls beyond dog fighting.
Off the Chain (OTC) pairs graphic imagery of dogs in the pit with hip hop beats; an urban "cool" feel to the production makes for a DVD that plays more like a commercial for the underground dog fighting world than a cry for help for a breed that is at times brutally exploited. Snippets of interviews with humane officers and Pit Bull advocates fade into the background, while the blurred, masked and other-wise disguised dog men talking about their love for the dogs, the money to be made, and how Pit Bulls are willing athletes participating in an organized sport pop out and provide for the truly memorable moments. Empathetic animal lovers will be horrified but curious youth who may already be exposed to a brutal side of urban life will be fascinated and enamored with the postulation that much money can be made in the bloody, underground world of pit fighting (a trio of highschoolers rap about gangster life and Pit Bulls in one scene).
The first 5 minutes of OTC presents a very brief look at the history of the Pit Bull. The bull baiting rings and fighting pits that were the birthing grounds for the Pit Bull breed are glossed over; instead, focus is on the status of the Pit Bulldog in early American history as a beloved family companion and even a decorated World War I veteran. According the OTC, this was a breed that enjoyed status that the Golden Retriever or Lab enjoys in today's America. While this is a lovely point to drive home, OTC's portrayal of the breed in modern America is one-sided. The fact that early Pit Bulls played the roles of both fighter and family companion is ignored. No real mention of today's Pit Bulls being largely used as pets, show dogs, therapy dogs, or search and rescue dogs is made. Instead, what is presented is a startling bias: Pit Bulls today are brutalized, tortured, and trained to kill; they are victims, owned by criminals who are a danger to society. Gone are the days of yore; dog fighting is the dominate purpose of the breed today.
Although in OTC the general information on the breed and the "sport" of dog fighting was accurate, there were still the usual pat answers made in response to the unasked but inferred questions: are fighting dogs safe and can they be rescued/rehomed? The answer was "no". Dogs confiscated in fighting rings are destroyed. And while a humane death is by far preferable to the misery of a fighting dog life, it is nonetheless ever so frustrating for breed advocates such as myself to see lovely little gamebred dogs euthanized because they are supposedly unsafe. As always, the fighting dog is portrayed as vicious while the lovable family pet "doesn't have a mean bone in its body". This is misleading, as breed experts understand that even showbred and pet Pit Bulls can be very aggressive towards other animals: this isn't a training issue, it is a genetic issue.
OTC thankfully made some effort to talk about human-aggression vs. dog-aggression, but frankly the effort fell short. There was still a blurring of the line between the two types of aggression, and that dreaded phrase "trained to fight" was uttered at least once.
OTC ends on a sour note. Dog fighting is world-wide problem and a billion dollar industry. Dog fighters are rarely prosecuted to any great extent. Young children are being sucked into the world of dog fighting at an alarming rate in some areas. Pit Bulls lend credibility to the image of the gangsta, rapper, or those people with low self esteem that need an ego boost from an innocent animal. For every Pit Bull that is rescued and adopted, 600 Pit Bulls will die. 3 million Pit Bulls die every year in the U.S. After viewing OTC, I felt deflated. No solutions were offered, and an an extremely pessimistic closing quote only added to the doomsday-ish feel.
After viewing OTC, I couldn't help but wonder: what was the real point of this documentary? The HSUS commands that we watch it; animal lovers everywhere are outraged. But what does OTC do for the image of the Pit Bull? You can imagine pet owners who share their homes with Pit Bulls clutching their dogs' necks while watching OTC, kissing the soft fur that tops the wrinkled foreheads, and silently (or maybe very vocally) cursing the beasts who brutalize their breed; a breed that they already know, love and support. But how about Average Joe who knows nothing about the breed except what's made headlines in papers? Or police and humane officers who are daily exposed to the worst of human kind? And what about the concerned mom who is worried the neighbor's Pit Bull will break out of its yard and maul a child? What would any of these people come away with after having watched OTC? A newfound understanding and respect for the breed? Or a deeper fear and mistrust?
While dog fighting cannot be ignored, it is, after all, illegal. Society has already deemed it barbaric and inhumane, and thankfully so. The constant focus on the Pit Bull/dog fighting connection has not helped the breed; it has hurt it. What is worth saving? A breed that is used for dog fighting as depicted in OTC, where steroids and strenuous training schedules make for the ultimate canine killing machine? Or an adored pet, friend, working dog partner that is suffering from its undeserved reputation? The public seems to have this belief that the Pit Bull is nothing more than the headlines - and documentaries like OTC - claim. Brutal, vicious, harbored by criminals. Victimized? Yes. But worthy of a place in today's society? Goodness, no. After all, only low lives, gangsters, drug dealers, white trash, and dog fighters would ever choose to own this breed; well, with the exception, maybe, of crazy, bleeding-heart animal rescuers.
I am waiting for someone to create a documentary about the REAL American Pit Bull Terrier. The show dogs, the couch potatoes, the search dogs, the bomb sniffers, the obedience trial champions. The noble, gentle, courageous breed that is victimized every day by animal abusers, bad owners, the media, and misguided individuals who, pro AND con, can't get past the dog fighting side of things. The dog that has a most valuable place in today's society, and is so much more than what OTC represents. Yes, people actually DO go out and purchase Pit Bulls for reasons other than fighting and ego-mania.